Where do we go after the tragedy of Uvalde? My daughter is three years old. She’s so bright, expressive, loving, independent. She loves to learn and is so excited to start school this fall. I’m excited, too, because I know that the social interaction she will get in a school setting will be great for her. I do my best – she plays with her cousins and meets lots of kids at the park, but that’s not the same as making friends in school.
However, we live in the United States, where the chances of those friendships lasting into adulthood is growing smaller due to a unique and grave challenge of this country: gun violence.
I should say that we are lucky to live in New Jersey, a state with some of the strictest gun regulations and the fifth-lowest gun death rates in the country. Nonetheless, a woman was just arrested three miles away from us, for threatening to shoot up her child’s elementary school in a heated argument with the school principal. We are lucky that even these threats are not a frequent occurrence, while others experience high levels of violence almost daily.
After seeing the carnage that ensued at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas I cried. The news doesn’t make me cry. Ever. This tragedy, however, made me sob in anger, grief, fear, helplessness, hopelessness, confusion. 19 children and two teachers were killed, and 17 others injured. My grief is nowhere near the grief that the families in Uvalde feel, but I grieve that they have to feel the pain of never being able to hold their children again. I grieve that those children won’t have family dinners or squeal on the playground or throw tantrums or snuggle with their friends and families. They are gone.
Will that be my daughter one day? At this rate, it could be.
At the time I am writing this article on the 22nd of June, 2022, there have been 65 mass shootings since Uvalde, based on data from the Gun Violence Archive. We need to fix this problem, before our children die in what is supposed to be one of the safest places we can bring them. How do we fix this problem? We start with voter mobilization. Now, more than ever, we need to get everyone registered to vote and make sure they show up to the polls to vote for candidates that will work for gun regulations and will take on the gun lobby. We need to visit our neighbors and talk to our friends to make sure that everyone that can vote will do so. We need to lobby for red flag laws and affordable early mental health intervention. We need to place representatives in office that will support a ban on military-style weapons and what we colloquially know as assault weapons.
Regulations are proven to reduce gun violence.
Regulations are the reason that every developed country has a gun death rate of 0.6 per 100,000 people or less…except the US. European countries like Germany and Switzerland have fairly high rates of gun ownership, yet neither has experienced a mass shooting in over two decades. This is due to extensive training and increased regulations. On the other hand, the Brazilian president’s efforts to arm his citizens has led to Brazil having the 5th highest gun death rate in the world. Pro-gun policies increase gun deaths, and regulations decrease them.
Gun violence is not just a political issue. It is a matter of sustainability as well, and that’s why we’re talking about it here on Earth Sygns. Sustainability is about creating a healthy and equitable future for all. When guns are the leading cause of death among children and adolescents in the US, this country’s gun policies (or lack thereof) can hardly be called “sustainable.” To help us fix this problem, make sure you are registered to vote. Help your friends and family register, and learn about your local and national political candidates. And, whatever you do, do not stop talking about the tragedy in Uvalde and the need for reform. Every one of us owes that to every one of them.
Sources:Brueck, H. (2022, May 25). Switzerland has a stunningly high rate of gun ownership – here’s why it doesn’t have mass shootings. Business Insider. Retrieved June 22, 2022, from https://www.businessinsider.com/switzerland-gun-laws-rates-of-gun-deaths-2018-2#in-addition-to-the-militias-arms-the-country-has-about-2-million-privately-owned-guns-a-figure-that-has-been-plummeting-over-the-past-decade-6 Gun violence archive.
Gun Violence Archive. (n.d.). Retrieved June 22, 2022, from https://www.gunviolencearchive.org/reports/mass-shooting?page=2 Masters, J. (2022, June 10).
U.S. gun policy: Global comparisons. Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved June 22, 2022, from https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/us-gun-policy-global-comparisons Sam, C., & Rupp, L. (2022, May 26).
Gun Violence in the US Far Exceeds Levels in Other Rich Nations. Bloomberg.com. Retrieved June 22, 2022, from https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2022-us-gun-violence-world-comparison/
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